256-260 Byres Road, Glasgow. G12 8SH. Tel: 0141 341 0737. Curlers Tavern website.
Curlers Tavern. 1991.
Believe it or not this very old public house has quite a few name changes over the years, including; “The Curlers”, “The Curlers Tavern”, “Curlers”, “The Curlers Rest” and “Sinclair’s Tavern.”
This is one of around ten pubs in Glasgow that claim to be the oldest in the city. I have never seen any evidence of this as being the oldest however it is one of the oldest in the west end of the city.
In 1858 the owner of the tavern was Mr James Sinclair he was also a coach hirer and manufacturer, when James died his wife took over the business. James Kay took over the licence soon afterwards, Mr Kay was born in Maryhill in 1838, he was married to Margaret and had a large family of seven daughters all living in Ruthven Street.
When John Green took over the pub in 1910 the rent for the premises was £55.00 per year. It stayed in the Green family for 60 years and was sold in 1970 for £160,000. Eric Green was the last of the Green family to own the pub.
Curlers was bought by Tennents Caledonian Breweries in the summer of 1970, the interior was refurbished in 1972. The manager Vincent Paterson controlled staff of around 40.
According to local folklore, the Curlers Tavern was opened in the seventeenth century as a coffee house. Later a licensed bar was started. It is said that Charles II called in for a refreshment and, discovered that the licence did not permit Sunday opening, granted a special Royal Charter exempting it from the Scottish licensing laws. However there is no record of this charter or any other evidence of this story.
The public house took it’s name from the fact that a local curling pond which was in use until the end of the 19th century.
The Curlers. 2007.ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooThe Curlers. 2009.
The Curlers. No date.THE CURLERS TAVERN BYRES RDThe Curlers. No date.
Opening of the new Log Cabin lounge bar, Curlers Tavern 1952.
Margaret Green was licensee of the Curlers Tavern in 1952.
In the NEWS…1957.
The opening of the new dining-room at the Curlers Tavern. On the ground floor a new cocktail bar is laid out.
New dining area at Curlers Tavern in the 1957
The new restaurant has seating accommodation for 100. Its decor is bright and restful, with light grey patterned wallpaper. Three pillars supporting the roof are papered in dark green, framed in white wood. The whole is set off with twin light wall brackets and two central pendants each carrying eight lights, and all have small red shades which match the deep red plush fitted carpet.
The ceiling of this Regency room is of matt primrose colour. Floral decorations add to the atmosphere of this old-established hostelry. Both windows of the dining-room are framed with red velvet curtains and pelmets.
Bringing a touch of Canada to Glasgow’s west end in the redecorated Cabin-style lounge in the Curlers Tavern. 1957.
Directly below the Regency room is a new cocktail bar and lounge in Spanish style. Entrance is gained through wrought-iron gates. The gantry is comprised of two arches with concealed lights and the bar top is of rough polished wood. Two wheels carry six lights each hung from the centre of the ceiling and are supported by twin wall-brackets around the walls.
The walls are of rough plastic paint and carry murals in colour of Spanish dancers and matadors. On the same floor as the new restaurant the original bar and lounge -“The Cabin”- has been redecorated in the Canadian style, with rough stone walls and wooden rafters and a large open fireplace. Lights are reproductions of oil lanterns. Inset paintings of Canadian western scenes are attractive on the timbered walls. Comfortable armchairs and settees are upholstered in floral textiles of varied patterns and small knee-high polished tables are set out around the lounge.
Mrs Margaret Green is the licence-holder of the premises. The manager is Mr Alex. Rutherford.
Curlers Tavern Murals 1950…
Curlers Tavern mural . 1950 included in this image are Mr Hunter, Mr Robin Russell, Mr W Doherty, Pritchard. Do you know anyone else?
Teacher Walter Pritchard (Glasgow School of Art,) was a respected figure in mural art and Fyffe Christie a wonderful portrait artist. Christie worked with Pritchard and an unknown artist whose surname was Roy painting a series of murals in the Curler’s Tavern in Byres Road in the West End of Glasgow, Christie’s contribution being a mural on the English folk song Widicome Fair while Pritchard took the Robert Burns poem Tam O’ Shanter for his subject and Roy created caricatures of historic figures using the bar’s regulars including the Scottish Poet (Pritchard’s lodger at the time) Hugh McDiarmid, as models.
Another mural in Curlers Tavern. 1950. Roy painted this mural on behalf of the House of Whitbread in the Curlers Tavern. Central figure in front is C. M. Grieve (Hugh McDiarmid), Scottish poet and Nationalist. On the right is Jack House on his left is Eric de Banzie, well-known Glasgow journalist.
Christie had a lifelong love of music and this would be a recurring theme in his work. In the 1970s these murals were threatened as new owners of Curlers Tavern intended to remove them but this was successfully opposed by the Glasgow People’s Palace Museum curators Elspeth King and Michael Donnelly. Some years later during another refurbishment, and with Elspeth King no longer at the People’s Palace Museum, the murals were thrown out. Only Roy’s murals survived, being salvaged from a rubbish skip by one of the barmaids, and these now hang on the walls of the Oran Mor Bar, formerly a church and now a bar and arts venue in Glasgow’s Byres Road.
It is said that the Curlers Tavern had a seven day licence and could open 7 days a week granted by William III. The story goes that one day William III was riding through Glasgow and stopped at the Curlers for a drink. But the pub was closed. The King demanded that it should be opened and immediately granted a Royal Charter to the landlord giving him powers to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This charter is said to have been given in perpetuity and while, unhappily, the original document is not to be found the Green family that owned the pub boasted that, they don’t take advantage of the royal concession, they own a pub which has the right to open on Sundays. I have researched this story and found no evidence of the myth.
There is a curling stone now in Canada which, more than two hundred years old, rested until the 1950s in Curlers Tavern. It’s handle was a door knob on the entrance door. Mr E Green presented to the Canadian Curling Team and, no doubt, discussed with them his plans for a real Canadian log cabin which he hoped to build some day at the back of his pub. The log cabin, if the plans are passed, will be six times the size of the present bar and should, I think, be a “winner.” Perhaps the other old curling stone which the Greens have will be on show there.
Recently some very excellent murals have the story of Tan O’ Shanter. It was painted by Pritchard. Others depict a scene from Treasure Island (Tennent’s advertisement); A Country Inn (Whitbread) and a quayside study (Martell.) Regular customers painted by Roy and some of these include well-known B.B.C. personalities.
In the News 1972…
It has been called, rather unimaginatively, the reopening of The Curlers. But it would be more fitting to describe it as the re-emergence, or perhaps even the renaissance of this rather splendid old public house in Byres Road, Hillhead, Glasgow.
And Byres Road as every native of the district and countless others less fortunate will readily admit, is this great city of Glasgow’s most fascinating shopping promenade, even it you don’t need anything.
left to right W Elliot, managing director of Tennent Caledonian Breweries, D Scott, managed houses director, R Ward, personnel director and R Paterson, director of licensed houses. 1972.
The Curlers, close enough to Glasgow University on one hand and the BBC on the other, fairly blooms in the sunlight of the two cultures. Blooming it certainly looks now with bright new white stonework setting off the fresh red woodwork to the best advantage.
In fact, it’s now much more noticeable presence lends a distinctive Swiss chalet touch to the already cosmopolitan air of the famous road. That’s only the outside. Choose the middle one of the three street doors and you reach the upstairs section of the sturdy, two floor building to see the impressive evidence of a modern miracle of transformation.
It’s a transformation that did not happen in a hurry. It took about 16 weeks of heavy, hard going and much ingenious planning to accomplish. Not to mention some £30,000. When you reach the top of the stairs, where you are almost certain to be greeted by the very alert and “with it” young manager Mr. Vincent Paterson, a preliminary glance will convince you it was £30,000 well spent.
Vincent Paterson manager of Curlers Tavern 1972.
Proud as he is of his beautifully furnished and designed cocktail lounge which you reach first, Mr. Paterson is almost indistinguishably impatient to display the dining room. And “Isn’t it marvellous?” he asked me.
Without waiting for my enthusiastic agreement he went on, “There isn’t anything like this in the country, or anywhere else for that matter,” he declared firmly. There are several unusual features in the design and furnishings of this most appealing room which can seat 60 or 70 at a time.
The most impressive for me were what at first glimpse seemed to be two scarlet and gleaming tents reminiscent of what might have been all the go with King Arthur’s Knights charging at the battle season.
These two tents, with their extremely attractive scarlet drapings slung from a framework of shining tubular brass, are the dominant features of the room.
Mr Paterson pointed out to me that one of the “tents” containing a small dance section rimmed on the floor with a broad circle of opaque glass. The other simply encloses a seating area.
Advert for Curlers 1976.
Curlers advert 1978.
This painting of the Curlers Tavern came from the USA. Thanks to John Sloway.
Part of Byres Road was called Victoria Street and Great George Street where the Curlers is situated. Byres Road only went as far as where the public library is today and veered west to Kirklee.
1993 William Keenan for Bass Inns.
1970 Donald Roy Campbell.
1960-1950 Margaret Green.
1937-1910 John Green.
1910-1872 James Kay
1864 Mrs Sinclair.
1858 James Sinclair.
Do you have any memories of this very old pub? If so please leave a comment.